Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Kurt Russell says actors are "court jesters," should shut up about politics

Illustration for article titled Kurt Russell says actors are court jesters, should shut up about politics
Photo: JOSEPH LEDERER/NETFLIX

Kurt Russell has weighed in on politics once again, which is to say he hasn’t weighed in on politics right now. Which is to say, Kurt Russell has some opinions on politics, but only about how he doesn’t have any opinions on politics, and neither should you.

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Let’s start again.

Kurt Russell gave a brief interview this week—linked to his new Netflix Santa Claus movie, The Christmas Chronicles Part II—in which he touched on his political beliefs, a topic he’s noticeably reticent to discuss for a guy who’s talked about politics an awful lot over the years. (In admittedly reductive brief: He’s a self-described “hardcore libertarian” from the Cato Institute set, and he’s pretty pro-gun.) But that’s not what Russell wants us to take away from today’s political discourse. No, he’d rather that the actors of today consider all the ways that being open about their political views is harming their craft. “As far as I’m concerned,” Russell said, “You should step away from saying anything so that you can still be seen by the audience in any character.”

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You could argue that “not talking about politics” is an inherently political stance, of course, albeit one that’s semi-invisible in support of the status quo. But Russell is pushing for the idea that audiences don’t have as much ability to separate art and artist as we might like, and that the expression of those views might get in the way of us seeing them as “court jesters”—Russell’s words—or hunky Santas, or whatever the case may be. (It also feels of a piece with the wider “cancel culture” narrative, where performers, especially right-wing performers, must supposedly live in fear of being told, “Hey, that viewpoint kind of sucks.”) “There’s no reason entertainers can’t learn just as much as anybody else about a subject, whatever it is,” Russell noted, adding, “But I think that what’s sad about it is that they lose their status as a court jester. And I’m a court jester.” And certainly, you could posit that Russell is clowning pretty hard with this particular viewpoint, so, hey, mission accomplished there.

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